The Young Pope doesn’t make things easy for its audience, devout, bitter or angry. Obvious villains like Voiello are endowed with priestly compassion; good characters like Lenny’s boyhood friend Cardinal Dussolier graphically violate their vows of priestly celibacy. Most pointedly, Law’s Pius frequently admits that his faith is in crisis; despite working miracles and delivering a season finale sermon that would renew any real world papacy, he confesses that he doesn’t believe in God.
This is all set in a conspicuous Italian surrealism that takes giddy advantage of the Vatican City setting. Sorrentino revels in striking visual tableaux and loving camera pans over both the beautiful and the grotesque. You can never predict where the show will go next. At one crucial point Lenny’s apartments are filled with the ghosts of a host of long-dead popes. There is a Papal Kangaroo.